The 8th New York Amsterdam News Labor Awards Breakfast took place Thursday, Sept. 29 at the 1199SEIU Funds Headquarters in midtown Manhattan. This year’s event celebrated unionized women of color and honored members of Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW) and its National Officer Council Women Leaders of Color.
“Coalition of Labor Union Women was founded in 1974,” said president Elise Bryant. “And that first conference in Chicago, they had over 3000 people, women from all over the country, and all different unions and jobs. And we continue to this day, doing the work of giving them the training and skills and support they need to take on leadership roles in their union.”
Bryant, one of the honorees, mentions large wage disparities between white men and women of color. But the gap closes significantly for those in unions. Additionally, she highlights the role they play in bargaining for maternity leave, childcare and reproductive rights. According to Bryant, CLUW chapters were formed throughout the country as a response to the Dobbs decision and the overturning of Roe v. Wade.
For fellow honoree, CLUW Executive Director Virginia Rodino, Thursday’s breakfast highlights the importance of unions in human progress.
“Women hold an important place in helping to drive that change,” she said. “CLUW has done anti-racist work in the past—the work that we’ve done leading up to this breakfast has allowed [us] to showcase the work that we’ve done in building up social movements that fight for racial justice.”
Rodino also maintains the importance of solidarity beyond just the workplace. She recalls the most successful strikes in CLUW’s history included workers in the community beyond the particular factory and often involved support on an international level.
Thursday’s breakfast featured Southern-style catering from Norma Jean Darden’s Spoonbread Inc. So what are the honorees excited to eat?
“Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day, so I’m not discriminatory,” said Rodino. “I am vegetarian. But beyond that, I love breakfast. So [I’m] happy to gamble.”
Bryant is also vegetarian, and firmly distinguishes herself from vegans.
“If there’s cheese, bread, eggs…anything without a face, I’m eating,” she said.
Tandy Lau is a Report for America corps member and writes about public safety for the Amsterdam News. Your donation to match our RFA grant helps keep him writing stories like this one; please consider making a tax-deductible gift today by visiting: https://tinyurl.com/fcszwj8w